For some reason everyone dreads jury duty and up until recently, I was one of those people. There’s frustration in having one’s routine interrupted. There’s normally a lengthy jury selection process that involves excessive waiting. Not to mention the fact that because of the time away from one’s job, workloads are often excessive upon return. However, my recent jury experience showed me that it’s very selfish of me to focus on my own inconveniences when the state of people’s lives are in question. Allow me to walk you through my jury process and you will soon understand the criticality of being chosen for this role.
I arrived to the courthouse at 8am and checked in with the courthouse representative. I was politely asked to sit in the waiting area until my name was called. Fortunately, there were two large televisions in the waiting area to entertain me while I waited. However, as it got closer to 11am, even the televisions failed to divert my growing impatience.
At approximately 11:15am, my name was finally called. I along with 69 potential jurors were given numbers and taken to a designated courtroom. Once we walked in the courtroom, the judge, prosecuting attorney, defense attorney and defendant were all facing us. It was actually a bit intimidating. The judge informed us that we could be seated and he made his first statement. The judge thanked us for participating in the jury selection process and informed us that serving as a juror was second in line to serving as military personnel for our country. I immediately felt convicted about expressing prior reservations about serving as a juror.
Once all potential jurors were seated in the courtroom, the judge informed us that the jury was being selected for a case involving an allegation of child molestation. You could tell that several potential jurors were impacted by this statement, but all of us managed to keep our composure as the jury selection process began.
The prosecuting and defense attorney asked each person a series of questions upon which responses were carefully evaluated. I was floored by some of the responses as it was evident that many people were trying to get out of serving on the jury. When asked if anyone had any specific reasons for not being able to serve on the jury, responses ranged from “I have concentration issues”, to “I have major project deadlines”, to “My wife is expecting a baby in 3 weeks”, to a ridiculous statement like “This case just doesn’t interest me”. It was evident that people’s personal lives were more important than participating in a trial that had huge implications on the life of a child and a defendant.
Once all questions were posed, all 70 potential jurors were asked to stand outside the courtroom for approximately 20 to 25 minutes while final jurors were selected. After waiting for approximately 90 minutes, potential jurors were finally called into the courtroom by the bailiff. The prosecuting attorney had previously stated that most likely if a juror was seated in the back rows, then he or she would probably not be selected as a juror. I was on the 3rd row, so I felt relatively sure that I would not be selected.
As juror names were called out, some people sighed in frustration while others seemed unaffected. To my surprise, my name was called and I really didn’t know how to feel. I knew that I had a loving and compassionate heart for children, but I also knew that I needed to evaluate this case as an unbiased juror. The only thing that I was sure of was that if God allowed me to be selected as a juror for this case, then it was a part of his ultimate plan. It wasn’t about me. It was about a child and a defendant who needed someone who would consider all the facts and render a verdict that was fair and just.
I’ll continue to walk you through my jury experience in my next blog. The intent of this blog is to encourage you to think about the fact that sometimes God calls us to do things that are inconvenient, uncomfortable and undesirable. We are often so focused on our own desires and issues that we lose sight of the desperate needs of others. It’s really not about us. We were created to use our gifts to meet the needs of others.